The first sarga of Balakanda begins with Valmiki questioning Narada about the existence of a special kind of human being. He was inquisitive to know:
In all this world, I pray thee, who
Is virtuous, heroic, true?
Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,
To every creature good and kind ?
Bounteous, and holy, just and wise,
Alone most fair, to all men’s eyes?
Thus he began his question inquiring about the perfect human who was living amidst them at that point in time. The kind of qualities that Valmiki was expecting in such a person appear contradictory at the first glance. For example, he asks if such a person was:
Devoid of envy, firm and sage,
Whose tranquil soul ne’er yields to rage ?
Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,
Do Gods embattled fear and fly ?
It wasn’t good enough for Valmiki if these qualities were present in some person, but were never put to any use! He was interesting to know about the person:
Whose noble might and gentle skill
The triple world can guard from ill?
Who is the best of princes, he
Who love his people’s good to see ?
A man who was blessed in so many ways that he was
The store of bliss, the living mine
Where brightest joys and virtues shine?
Queen Fortune’s best and dearest friend,
Whose steps her choicest gifts attend.
A man, who if made to stand alongside the high lords of the sky, they would be honoured. A man:
Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
With Indra, Vishnu, Fire and Air ?
Grant, Saint divine, the boon I ask,
For thee, I ween, an easy task,
To whom the power is given to know
If such a man breathe here below”
Narada muni, pleased with Valmiki’s question tells him that rare is a person in whom all these qualities can be found at once. But there is one such person, who goes by the name Rama, who is born in the famous Ikshvaku’s family and currently ruling the land of Ayodhya. As if to answer Valmiki’s question “Alone most fair, to all men’s eyes?”, Narada describes the physical appearance of Rama as follows:
Tall and broad shouldered, strong of limb,
Fortune has set her mark on him,
High destiny is clear impressed
On massive jaw and ample chest
Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown,
Embedded lies his collar bone,
His lordly steps are firm and free,
His strong arms reach below his knee,
And limbs in fair proportion set:
The manliest form e’er fashioned yet,
Graced with each high imperial mark,
His skin is soft and lustrous dark,
Large are his eyes that sweetly shine
With majesty almost divine.
And this man was well versed in the Vedas, was skilled in archery, was trained in arts and versed in law. At the same time, he was also
High souled and meet for happy fate,
Most tender and compassionate;
The noblest of all lordly overs,
Whom good men follow, as the rivers
Follow the King of Floods, the sea:
So liberal, so just is he.
And when it comes to Godliness, he was
The peer of Vishnu’s power and might,
And lovely as the Lord of Night
Patient as earth, but, roused to ire,
Fierce as the world-destroying fire;
In bounty like the Lord of Gold,
And Justice’ self in human mould.
However Narada doesn’t just stop at this enumeration of qualities of Rama, but also goes on to narrate the story that makes Rama so great. We shall see that story in the next post.